Onyango wins fourth MVP award, KPA clinch men's Premier League

By francis marangu
Feb 12, 2021
  • Tony Onyango, the KPA captain displays the Kenya Premier League basketball title the team won after beating Co-Operative Bank. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Tobias Odumbe of KPA leads the charge against Co-Operative Bank who won the men's Premier League title. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Equity Bank and KPA are tied 2-2 in the KBF women's Premier League playoffs. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Tobias Onyango clinched a record fourth Most Valuable Player (MVP) award as Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) beat Co-operative Bank in game four on Sunday to win the 2016 Kenya Basketball Federation men’s Premier League title.

In his career spanning 13 years, Onyango has won three more MVP awards with KCB Lions. “I feel blessed. Most of the players my age have already retired but I can still run around and win,” he told Sports News Arena.

In game four, KPA ran away with a 79-66 win after Co-op Bank won game three 79-57 on Saturday to delay their coronation. Onyango top-scored with 18 points, Victor Bosire added 17 and Arou Chan had 15. James Mwangi scored 13 points for the bankers with Job Byron adding 12.

The bankers were competitive in the first quarter but had to chase the game in the second half. They fell to a 12-point deficit as KPA led 43-31 in the second quarter but fought back to four points in the fourth quarter at 61-65. KPA were just too smart for the bankers as they held on to win.

In the opening quarter, KPA won 25-22 after leading four times at 2-0 from Chan’s basket, 5-2 from Chan’s three-point play, 10-9 and 16-14. Co-op Bank led 9-8 with two ties of 2-2 and 14-14.

The dockers continued to dominate in the second quarter with a 19-15 win after taking the 12-point lead. Co-op Bank won the third quarter 20-19 and KPA the fourth 16-9.

The win justified head coach Anthony Ojukwu’s assertion that KPA would be the surprise package in the playoffs despite a poor regular season.

They utilized the “underdog” tag to their best. “We have been the underdogs all along and winning today feels good,” Onyango remarked.

Winning mentality

Ojukwu said it's the winning mentality he imparts in his players that won after all. “The urge to win has pushed us to the title. Any player who joins KPA has to play to win.”

KPA will be gunning for a rare double with a win in the women's final when they play Equity Bank in the decisive game five Monday evening.

Equity won game three 54-52 on Saturday but KPA tied two-all on Sunday winning game four 67-62. In game three, Equity came to life in the fourth quarter after losing out in the first three. KPA won 13-10, 11-8 and 15-11 respectively.

They turned things around in the fourth quarter with a strong 25-13 score. Hilda Indasi scored 16 points for Equity with Betty Kananu and Felmas Adhiambo scoring 11 each for KPA.

Come game four, it was as competitive as a title-winning game. KPA won the first quarter 15-11 with leads of 2-0 and 6-5. Equity led 5-2 and 9-8 with ties of 2-2 and 9-9.

Adhiambo broke the tie from a three-point play to give KPA final lead in the quarter. Second quarter tied 18-18 with KPA going up 8 points at 19-11. A big block by Felmas Adhiambo on Evelyn Nora was the standout moment in the quarter.

For close to seven minutes, KPA had an upper hand until Samba Mjomba intercepted a pass by Yvonne Akinyi to score a basket with 3:25 on the clock and tie 22-22 for Equity. Akinyi hit back with a basket but Indasi tied 24-24 with two free shots.

Akinyi gave KPA the lead again from a three-point play heading to the break. Third quarter was all about Indasi and Mercy Wanyama as Equity kept KPA under check.

Wanyama scored nine points and Indasi had seven as Equity won 16-13 to narrow the gap to one point at 46-45 by close of the quarter. The lead changed hands severally in the closing quarter.

Indasi titled the lead back

Evelyn Nora, a former KPA player gave Equity the lead 47-46 but Annerose Atieno canceled with two free shots. Indasi titled the lead back to Equity 49-48 with two free shots before Natalie Akinyi made it 50-49 to KPA with a basket.

With five minutes played, Samba buried a three-pointer to tie 54-54 but Atieno gave KPA a 57-54 lead from the three-point play. They dominated and with 53 seconds to play, Equity called a tactical timeout as KPA enjoyed a three-point lead of 65-62.

From the possession, they set up Indasi for an attempt at the arc to tie scores but missed reverting possession to KPA. Adhiambo scored a crucial basket with 16 seconds remaining that killed off Equity’s fighting power and any hope of forcing overtime play.

Indasi scored a game-high 26 points including 10 free shots and two three-pointers. Adhiambo top scored for KPA with 16 points, Natalie Akinyi added 15 and Yvonne Akinyi finished with 12.

KPA scored 15 points from the free-throw line and 15 from the arc against 18 for Equity from free shots and nine from three-point shots.

“It is a normal game like any other,” Ojukwu said about game five. “We will come, play and win. We want to win a double this season for the first time and KPA will dominante Kenyan basketball.”

Umoja won the men’s Division I title after beating Zetech University 51-48 in game five. Nick Ogol and Kevin Sunguti scored 13 points each for Umoja as Jeremy Opiyo top scored for Zetech with 15 points.